Physical Literacy

Physical literacy is the concept that children must learn how to move properly when they are in preschool and elementary school. Contrary to popular belief, no one is a “natural born athlete.”

The idea behind physical literacy is this: if we give children the opportunity to do the right physical activities at the right time in their development, more of them will enjoy getting active and stay active. They will develop more confidence in their bodies and better sport skills – with better chances to become the next Wayne Gretzky or Steve Nash! 

Some people think you need “natural born” skills to participate in sport and activity. The truth is really the opposite. 

Even the top professionals first had to develop physical literacy as children. And they had to practice their skills for years, before they were ever recognized as special talents.

In fact, scientific research has proven that you need 10,000 hours of practice to become an “expert.”  

To develop physical literacy, children need to learn fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills. What’s more, they need to practice these fundamental skills for hundreds of hours in the playground, at school, in recreation programs, and within sport clubs before they reach puberty.

Physical literacy also means that children learn to “read” what is going on around them in an activity and reacting appropriately. 

Children should acquire physical literacy in each of the four activity environments – land, water, air, and snow and ice.

With physical literacy, the door opens to a world of opportunities in sport and physical activity.

How can you get kids practicing their fundamental skills?  Make it fun. You can get started with these games and activities. You can also measure your child’s physical literacy with the physical literacy checklist.    

Without physical literacy, research shows many children and youth withdraw from physical activity and sport.  Children report that not having the skills to play is one major reason they drop out.